The Swedish Luleå are the European Cup holders and winners of the IIHF’s Champions’ Hockey League 2014-15. The team won the finals against Frölunda Gothenburg last Tuesday, 3 February 2015. Thus, they have re-captured the CHL cup, which already was in their hands after the successful 2012-13 season.
Notwithstanding the fact that Luleå were playing against Frölunda at home and had lots of locals to support them at the arena, it was Frölunda who scored the first two goals. This is not surprising as both teams are playing in the same national championships (the Swedish SHL), where Frölunda is among the top teams holding Place 3 and Luleå (75 points) is in the lower part of the table at Place 8 (61 points).
So, the first goal was scored by the guests from Gothenburg just 45 seconds into the game: Artturi Lehkonen’s backhander from the right corner rebounded right in front of the net, where Frölunda’s captain Joel Lundqvist was ready for the precise rebound shot (0:1). The second goal was scored by Frölunda twelve minutes later and it was a rebound again: Mathis Olimb was in the right spot after a strong shot by his teammate Andreas Johnson (0:2).
The second period was goalless, but not effortless and with a strong intrigue. In fact it was decisive in some sense. Had the Indians from Gothenburg scored the third goal in a row, they would have most likely prevailed in the whole match and the series. Luleå’s goalkeeper Joel Lassinantti said: “If they had made it 3:0, it could have killed the game.” It was to a great extent Lassinantti’s effort that helped his team ensure the opponents did not score in the second period.
The third period saw the change of fate in the game and the whole tournament. Luleå gained more and more momentum, whereas Frölunda was losing it. More importantly Luleå kept the faith during the first two periods, and due to it managed to turn their faith into four consecutive goals.
Luleå had plenty of power-play moments in this game, but it was Christian Näkyvä, Luleå’s Finnish defenseman, who managed to capitalize on them first in his team. Näkyvä’s shot on goal through heavy traffic while in power-play in the middle of the third period went into Frölunda’s goal mostly unnoticed by its keeper Linus Fernström.
The teams still had 12:27 to play and it was hard to tell how the game would develop. Shortly after Luleå’s first goal, however, Frölunda’s defenseman Oscar Fantenberg roughed severely on Karl Fabricius and brought the latter shivering onto the ice. A major penalty for Fantenberg followed, which sent him into the dressing room and cost his team dearly.
So, it was Peter Cehlarik who scored after a wonderful power-play combination of his teammates. This goal by Cehlarik made the score equal – 2:2. This, however, was not the end of Fantenberg’s penalty time, although he was resting outside of the rink by that time already. Shortly after Cehlarik’s goal Jan Sandström shot strongly on goal and the puck went into Frölunda’s net through traffic and the five hole of Linus Fernström. The score became 3:2 for the local team.
In the dying minutes of the game Frölunda played with six men in the field and no goalkeeper. This gave Luleå a chance for scoring an empty-netter. Dean Kukan availed himself of the possibility securing the victory for his team– 4:2.
Thus, Luleå Hockey became the cup holders of the European Champions’ Hockey League and received an additional boost for their national league performance.
LONG LIVE THE CHAMPS!